After eight games your home town Cleveland Cavaliers are a .500 basketball team! Yes, pessimistic fans will say “good enough for 11th in the East” or “just wait, we will be 10 games under in a month.” How about we get behind this team and show a little optimism.
According to teamrankings.com, the Cavaliers have played the third-toughest schedule thus far this season. Every team they have played this year was a playoff team last year. They just came off of their second-longest road trip of the season- I feel much better knowing we are not going out west in late February or March when those types of trips can crush your season. Not to mention when we do go back out west (in early January) we play in Portland, San Antonio, Sacramento and OKC. A far cry from LA, Denver and Phoenix.
Minus the Clippers, the Cavs played every team at full strength. Although they have a few losses by double digits, they have not been blown out of any game. They have shown they can grind it out with Denver and Phoenix and run with Charlotte. In only eight games they have been at full strength for four. Darius Garland appears to be still getting his legs under him after suffering an ankle injury and Issac Okoro who had been tremendous off the bench has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury. Still the Cavs have battled to 4-4.
We have a new starting five who are trying to learn each other. Colin Sexton who essentially was the offense last year is learning a different role. Take a look at Sexton’s usage rate at foxsports.com or sports-reference.com and you will notice he is not as involved as in prior years. Don’t get me wrong, he is a main focal point of the offense, but the Cavs have other players they are relying on this year as opposed to Sexton isolation ball. It is no mistake that this has translated into early season wins.
We look forward to hosting a Trailblazer team tonight who are at the end of their own road trip and have not played particularly well this year. Leaning forward the following seven games are against Eastern Conference teams, all of which will be jockeying for playoff positions in a few months. If 4-4 turns to 8-8, I will be thrilled. If we can get Okoro and Love (health and safety protocol no known injury) back sooner than later, that could make us winners of five or six of the next eight. That type of start puts teams on notice that the Cavs are not simply a push over.
See, 4-4 means so much more. It means optimism, hope and belief that we can win games night in and night out. It means we have played better basketball early in the season. It means players are buying into the coaching and full-filling their new roles. It means when this team plays as a team they can and will stack wins.
Finally 4-4 multiplies out to 41-41. This translates to at least the 10th spot in the East the last seven years. That simply equates to two words: playoff basketball- even if that is the 10th seed making the play-in game. Much more than anyone predicted this team to do! Get on the wagon Cavs fan’s and #LetEmKnow!